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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Soon, until then...

The farm is hibernating, waiting for some sustained warmer weather to burst forth with new growth.  Two year old Christmas tree tops just peek out from their cozy white blanket, teasing the deer with the bounty they hold inside their buds.  Keeping the snow machines out of the tree fields has proven slightly more difficult than keeping out the deer so fencing may be in order this year for both human and animal alike. 

We have been making progress on a few pre-spring projects; getting organized two weeks ago has certainly helped in that direction.  Like many people this time of year, our thoughts have turned towards spring and summer.  I completed revisions to fliers and contracts for an August pow-wow we help with in Dummer, NH.  The seeds have been added to the inventory.  Crop planning and tracking is the next step; right now I don’t know which crops are doing really well for us and which ones we should stop working on altogether.

Educational opportunities abound and are pretty the underlying theme for project planning.  I have learned either weed killing spray or mulch is required as we do not have enough time keep the grass in check in the Christmas tree fields and weed the gardens.  Our attempts at remaining as organic as possible will probably dictate mulch in the garden over herbicide in the trees.  Changes will be required over the summer as water from melting snow which drips slowly off the garage roof has managed to infiltrate the chicken coop.  Fencing is also in the planning stages as we lost some of our squash, corn and other vegetables to wayward chickens not to mention to resolve the deer and snowmobile problem.  Lists of tools, supplies, fertilizers, nails, staples, sealers, etc. that have been scribbled on scraps of paper are starting to come together into project outlines.

I am beginning to ‘see the light at the end of the tunnel’ with the scanning project.  As I sat at the computer this morning, DH snapped a couple of pictures of the wildlife which has ventured out from the woods.  Whether they are running out of food in the woods or they were just happy with the momentary availability of the lawn poking through the snow, it is neat to see them just a few feet from the house.  The cats don’t quite know what to make of these big birds on the lawn.  Two of them watch, perched on half of their favorite chair which only now can be enjoyed as so much of that paper has been scanned and recycled.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The taps are in

With temperatures below zero this morning, the thought of tapping the maple trees was a little ominous.  DH spoke with our neighbor yesterday and he already has over 400 gallons of sap from the little bit of warm weather we had this past weekend.  Northern Vermont is predicted to have temperatures in the 40s and maybe even 50 over the next couple of days.  So out we went this morning, trudging through the feet of snow that have accumulated this winter and tapped our trees.  This particular task was not as daunting as it sounds as we are only tapping six buckets.  Our first venture into syrup has begun.  Boiling will take place over the outside fire pit on my days off.  If we are successful at making even a syrup-like substance then we will look at obtaining more buckets and taps for next year.  An old barrel woodstove is stored in the basement and I have found plans for making a homemade evaporator for this exact type of stove.  I will keep everyone updated on our sweet sticky journey.
These two buckets are on two different trees, one behind the other

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Great Read & Time for Sugaring?

One of the blogs I follow is that of a determined young woman in Jackson, NY just over the Vermont line.  She is becoming a sheep farmer.  27 yrs old, single, a graphic artist and author, away from family, but surrounded by friends; she is a farmer.  She purchased a small farmstead this year.  She tells of her wins and her losses learning experiences, appreciation of the little things and of each new adventure she has taken.  Jenna writes of an inspiring book which my sister gave me for Christmas this year.  Gene Logsdon’s The Contrary Farmer.  His writing is delightful and his common sense, practical, albeit ‘contrary’ approach to small farms is refreshing.  He reminds us that there was a time when farming was done by hand and by hoof.  There was no need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on equipment when a little people power and a little time was all it took to get the job done.  Highly Recommended!

Jenna and Gene remind me that it is the little steps that get us to where we want to be.  Every step in the journey has learning experiences and more importantly moments which require savoring.  It has been four and one half years since I have been back on the family farm.  There have been trials and tribulations, but in the end I can say that I am content.  Some days it is difficult to get motivated and there are days when the wind is howling and the snow is blowing that I want to stay cuddled warm within the covers, but the chickens, cats, dog, husband and I all need feeding.  Today teased us and started out nice and warm with southern breezes tipping the thermometer to just over 40 degrees this morning.  As I got ready for bed this afternoon, the winds has increased and the rains were falling.  I thought about the sap buckets and taps which DH had washed earlier this week which were still not on the side of the trees.  Tonight as I was leaving for work, the temperature had fallen below 20, the winds and snow were blowing and the weatherman forecast tomorrow’s high at 13 degrees.  The end of the week is predicted to be perfect weather for sugarin’, daytime temps into the 40s and nights below freezing.  Those taps will be in tomorrow or the next morning early!  If we can make maple syrup for all of our household needs this year, next year we will plan on cleaning up some older sugar bush and building a small evaporator for farmers market syrup in 2012.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The seeds have arrived, nestled snuggly in their box on the pile of mail, and are waiting patiently for me to go through them and add them to the garden plan for the spring.  A purple flag blinks at me each time I open my inbox warning me that the download of my tax software still has not taken place.  A maturing rooster calls forth from the chicken coop each day, his song now fully formed and while not robust, at least finally sounds like a rooster and not a teenager whose cracking voice resembled a dying bird instead of the beginning of a new day.   He reminds me that the brooder for the spring pullets remains only doodles on paper and hasn’t yet progressed to lumber in the garage.  Patches and Dylan eye me with disdain as the scanning project still occupies their favorite kitchen chair, not that they are hindered from lounging in the sun on top of the wealth of gardening, cooking and farming information stored within those pages.

The evidence of looming or missed deadlines becomes none more obvious than the RAT in the garage this week indicating that we didn’t get everything picked up or cleaned out this fall and the critter controls usually instituted when the weather starts to turn cool were missed completely.  I have forgotten my lists and been flying by the seat of my sizeable pants.  My organization plan has fallen by the wayside with a trip to CT, a planned trip to Maine that was hampered by weather, chickens with some sort of foot infection, looking for a tool which turned into a three day shop cleaning expedition, a not-so-well-thought-out decision to start college classes again, and lots more overtime at work.

I am determined, after a brief trip out of town tomorrow morning, I am going to take my days off this week and get re-organized, see what I can add to my to-do list, and make some marked progress on those looming deadlines.  I was also thinking it might be time to fashion a plow for my Taurus.